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PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre review

£586 inc VAT

Manufacturer: PC Specialist

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

PC Specialist's Aurelia is a compact Windows media centre PC that tracks the design of the Apple Mac mini.

PC Specialist's Aurelia is a compact Windows media centre PC that tracks the design of the Apple Mac mini.

Pressing the personal computer into service as a living-room media centre is an increasingly popular pursuit. It's been helped along recently by advances in laptop technology, which has allowed PCs to be made smaller and quieter, more happy to sit comfortably under the telly without drawing unwanted attention to themselves.

While it may be easy enough to find room for a personal computer in some corner of the lounge, the incessant noise of fans and hard drives is less easy to live with. So the use of notebook components should mean that the key issues of heat and noise have been addressed.

And these mini PCs should also be more economical to run, especially important if left on all day like a server.

Whether you wish to entrust your quality viewing time to a computer that requires regular maintenance and security software, when all you want to do is simply enjoy a film or play some music, is a topic for another discussion.

More PC Advisor media centre reviews

In the case of the PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre, we have a nicely compact unit about 6.5in square and 2.25in high, with a slot-load DVD drive at the front, and a host of connection options on the back. And at a price of around £500, it's not difficult to see where the Aurelia takes its cue: this is an Apple Mac mini tribute, built for the Windows market.

The original PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre design is courtesy of AOpen and is known as an XC mini MP45. With a spec and form factor so close to Apple's entry-level PC, it's impossible not to make comparisons between these two petite and lounge-friendly computers.

Inside the PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre sample we tested is a Intel Core 2 Duo T6400, ostensibly the same as the Mac mini's Intel P7350 CPU by running at 2.0GHz, although the Aurelia's processor is a slightly slower chip, with 2MB instead of 3MB of L2 cache, and a front-side bus clocked at 800MHz instead of 1066MHz.

It's also a less efficient part, with a thermal design power (TDP) of 35W against the P7350's 25W.

We noticed that the PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre stayed suitably quiet in use, with a nearly inaudible fan occasionally switching on when the system was working harder.

NEXT PAGE: Inside the Aurelia and performance results >>

PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre Expert Verdict »

2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400
800MHz FSB
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 6.0 SP1 32-bit
160GB 5400rpm 2.5in SATA HDD
2GB (1x2GB) 667MHz DDR2 RAM
Intel X4500MHD graphics processor
DVI
slot-load DVD±RW DL drive
5 x USB 2.0
1 x eSATA/USB combo
gigabit ethernet
802.11b/g/draft-n
infrared receiver
infrared remote control handest
mic in, line in, line out
power consumption: 18W idle, 34W peak
168x168x57mm
1380g
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 6 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

PC Specialist has assembled an AOpen mini PC that closely tracks the Apple Mac mini, with similarities stretching to pricing too. The PC Specialist version reviewed here is slightly more expensive than the entry-level £499 Mac but offers twice the RAM and a larger hard drive. In the deficit column, the Aurelia takes a slower 2GHz processor and DDR2 RAM, and loses out on niceties such as dual digital video outputs, FireWire and built-in Bluetooth. And aside from the more secure Mac OS X operating system, the Mac mini can also claim a graphics processor up to the task of modest gameplay.

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    Ultra-compact in size, ultra-low in power consumption, and crucially quiet to use, the Apple Mac mini makes a compelling media centre when matched with the right peripherals and software. Its performance is much faster than a box this size deserves and the built-in graphics card provides gaming horsepower too.

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